Closed Open Lambeth

An update on the Open All Hours artistic fiasco, a shameful event in the recent history of @lambeth_council that warrants the return of the prefix ‘loony’ to the Rotten Borough once again…

You may recall how Lambeth Council attempted to hijack the artistic initiative set up by the creative community within Lambeth. The Council refused to support or fund the planned Open Weekend of studios, and instead made a feeble attempt to set up a rival open art event, staged during the very same weekend.

Whoops.

Thankfully the resolve and fighting spirit within the Lambeth artistic community is one hell of a lot stronger than that found within the council chamber. The independent Lambeth Open event thrived; the risibly named Lambeth Wide Open was something of an own goal.

Twenty-six studios participated in the non-council interfering open weekend. Lambeth Wide Open was, um, wide of the mark, with only six studios signing up.

Intimidation was one of the tactics used by organisers of the council endorsed event. Artists were threatened with eviction from their studios, unless they agreed to participate in the Council copy cat open weekend.

But the story doesn’t end there. Public funding to the value of £4,500 was taken out of the taxpayer’s purse to prop up the banana republic event. The Council offered no funding whatsoever to support the independent artists.

Here’s where it all gets rather interesting. Keen to appear totally transparent and listening to the voice of the electorate (and so would you with an election looming and Lambeth Labour already on the racks,) the Lambeth Council website has the functionality of setting up an e-petition. I’m not sure to what extent the ruling Labour party is actually listening to the online voice, but all grass root attempts as participating in democracy have to start somewhere.

And so the following has recently appeared on the Lambeth Council site:

LambethOpen.com is an annual borough wide, artists led, open studio event, which provides an affordable platform for new artists to exhibit their work to a wider public. Un-funded this year, we would greatly appreciate the council’s help in 2010 and are petitioning for their assistance.

If you agree with our aims, please sign the e-petition which can be found over here.

The politicisation of art is nothing new. What has changed however is the availability to artists of online tools and networks to help promote, share and collaborate within their work.

I’m currently working on a site for a local artist. At the client’s request, the design brief was to specifically incorporate an area where the artist could put across any messages relevant to her work and activities.

Engagement with the art viewing public was identified at an early stage as a functionality that was critical in helping both artist, and the audience, understand the circumstances in which the art was created.

Art is about looking and listening, and then using this analytical skill to help form an opinion of the world around you. The wider picture helps you to stimulate your sense of understanding, and enables you to appreciate and participate within your community.

I don’t think there are many artists within Lambeth Council.

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